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Naspers is said to plan 2.5b rand investment in Swiggy

[JOHANNESBURG] Naspers is in talks to lead an investment of as much as 2.5 billion rand (S$269.68 million) in India's Swiggy to increase its stake in the online food-delivery company, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Africa's biggest company by market value plans to team up with China's Tencent Holdings to put together the new financing round, said the people, who asked not to be named as the information isn't public. Naspers owns 33 per cent of Tencent, which drives profit growth at the Cape Town-based technology and media company.

The talks come after Larry Illg, the head of Naspers's new investments unit, told investors at a meeting in New York in December that order volumes at Swiggy have more than doubled year-on-year and that the global food delivery industry is still at an early stage of development. Naspers and Tencent see significant opportunities to co-invest in India, chief executive officer Bob van Dijk said in the same presentation, without mentioning Swiggy.

Jane Yip, a spokeswoman for Tencent, didn't respond to a request for comment sent by email and text message.

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Naspers invested an initial US$80 million in Swiggy in May. That preceded a 660 million-euro (S$1.05 billion) purchase of shares in Germany's Delivery Hero in September. The company also has interests in iFood in Brazil and Mr Delivery in South Africa. Food is one of many online industries targeted by Naspers as it seeks investments to replicate the success of Tencent.

Swiggy is the largest food delivery business in India. Talks between the company, Naspers and Tencent are advanced, according to one of the people.

Naspers shares have gained more than 70 per cent in the past 12 months to 3,620.06 rand, valuing the company at 1.6 trillion rand. That's less than the US$179 billion valuation of the Tencent stake, and Mr Van Dijk has pledged to try to close that gap.

The stock traded 0.1 per cent higher at 3,635.49 rand as of 9.39am in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

BLOOMBERG